Imagine your gas tank is almost empty but you are on a journey with a far destination. You have money with you but there are no gas stations around to refill your gas. What do we do? This is the same question that our planet is currently asking of us. This is why Earth Overshoot Day 2022 is a date to keep in mind.
Earth Overshoot Day in 2022 is coming one day earlier than last year. This is not great news. However, it is evident that our current efforts are not proactive enough to preserve the planet for future generations. If #Movethedate is to become reality, we must start taking actions that keep the hopes of regeneration alive.
What is Earth Overshoot Day and why is it important
Earth Overshoot Day (EOD) marks the day that our resource consumption exceeds what our planet can regenerate during that year. For example, Earth Overshoot Day in 2022 is on the 28th of July, 2022. This means that by July 28, we would have used up all the resources that can be replenished during the year. Therefore, any resource used after July 28 is a loss and deficit to be repaid by future generations.
Since 1970, the Global Footprint Network has been keeping track of Earth Overshoot Day each year. The last time EOD was close to the end of the year was 1971. Ever since then, amidst exponential global developments, EOD has been moving backwards instead of forward. Now, in less than 8 months, we have already used up what the earth is capable of regenerating in 2022. This is a situation that we should not allow to go on.
The longer we do so, the more we erode the resilience of natural ecosystems on the planet.
Robbing future generations
156 days. That’s exactly how many days’ worth of global resources in 2022 we would be stealing from future generations according to Paul Polman’s article. Another way of looking at this data is to say that humans are using 75% more than the planet can regenerate this year. That means we are using up almost the regenerative capacity of two Earths in one year.
Imagine collecting loans but using your kids as collateral instead of cars, houses or other assets. This is what we are doing with the lives of future generations; consuming more resources than we can regenerate. Through our actions (and sometimes inactions), we are depriving our children and grandchildren of a clean and thriving planet. A few aspects of natural ecosystems that future generations might not benefit from due to our current activities include;
- The pollution of oceans and marine life. Estimates suggest that there are between 15–51 trillion pieces of plastic in our oceans.
- We lose about six million hectares of forests to deforestation every year. Those are ecosystems and wildlife that may never be recovered.
- Our changing climate has been noted to be the cause of recent droughts on the planet. Evidence continues to show that we might be running out of fresh water sources and species.
- In the United States alone, food waste is estimated between 30-40% of the food supply.
- Heaps and mountains of waste material keep growing across the world, as we recycle less than 20% of global waste every year.
Handprint is how we #Movethedate
By Handprint, we are not referring to our company name or our impact measurement solutions.
Instead, Handprint is a philosophy that sums up all actions that better the planet and ties them directly to impact. This approach is a clear improvement from just focusing on footprints, which is reactive and only measures the negative impact of our actions. Handprint also represents the idea of what our regeneration goals on the planet should be. While sustainability is not a bad idea, it is inadequate for the urgent and immediate threats that we face.
We can collectively take the following Handprint actions and save the planet a number of days for regeneration:
- Set the price of carbon to 100 US dollars: 63 days
- Plant and grow 350 million hectares of forests: 8 days
- Reduce meat consumption through vegetarian diets or meat alternatives: 17 days
- Plant trees on degraded agricultural and pasture land: 3 days
- Land management and conservation plans for peatland: 4 days
- Tree intercropping (add trees to cropland): 2.1 days
- Managed grazing: 2.2 days
On the footprint side, we can also explore some actions that can complement the ones above;
- Reduce food waste by 50%: 13 days
- Invest in smaller families which typically goes hand in hand with female empowerment: If 1 in every 2 families would have 1 less child and choose to postpone parenthood by 2 years, we could shave off 49 days.
As a part of the Generation Regeneration movement, we have to ensure that we consume less than the planet regenerates every year. We already have the tools and solutions to shift the Earth Overshoot Day to later in the year. What we need is discipline and leadership to stay committed to the achievement of this goal.
To learn more about how Digital Technologies powered by economies of collective action can help the planet #Movethedate, download the Handprint Manifesto today.